Sunday, April 18, 2010

Return of the MSG!

     A couple years ago, I posted a blog about MSG ("Why the Attacks on MSG?", November 9th, 2008).  I didn't actually write anything, I simply copied and pasted an article I had found on the internet, which stated why there is an MSG (Mono-sodium Glutamate) scare in America and some other countries, and the fact that there is no actual health detriment to consuming MSG unless you are intolerant or allergic to it.  Despite my complete lack of opinions in the original blog, the blog in fact sparked an interesting debate about the advantages and drawbacks of MSG in the comments section.  I was even graced by a comment from the Notorious MSG, currently my favorite rap group.  ("Seriously, everybody, what's the big deal, anyway?")

     I have since been rather obsessed with MSG.  Perhaps it is merely my love for the Notorious MSG, but I champion MSG as a flavor enhancer.  I have actually scourged the entire Trader Joe's store looking for MSG, and have found that they hawk not a single item of merchandise that sports MSG in its ingredients list.  Yet they hawk a great number of items that sport sea salt on their ingredients lists, which is far less healthy and flavorful than MSG!

     Advertisements used by companies such as Progresso soups (and Campbell's for that matter) are targeted toward a mass of people who are ignorant, and they use that ignorance to their advantage.  Because some food critic in 1968 stated that the MSG in his Chinese food caused him to have great discomfort, Americans have been targeting MSG as evil ever since.

     The fact of the matter is, however, that a 1995 study showed that "MSG was safe for most people when 'eaten at customary levels'. However, it also said that, based on anecdotal reports, some people may have an MSG intolerance which causes 'MSG symptom complex' and/or a worsening of asthmatic symptoms."  (^  Furthermore, it has been found SINCE that study, that this 'MSG intolerance' is also completely fictional.  According to later independent studies, "Subsequent research found that while large doses of MSG given without food may elicit more symptoms than a placebo in individuals who believe that they react adversely to MSG, the frequency of the responses was low and the responses reported were inconsistent, not reproducible, and were not observed when MSG was given with food."  (^ a b Geha RS, Beiser A, Ren C, et al. (April 2000). "Review of alleged reaction to monosodium glutamate and outcome of a multicenter double-blind placebo-controlled study". J. Nutr. 130 (4S Suppl): 1058S–62S. PMID 10736382.  Finally, the clincher:  "While many people believe that MSG is the cause of these symptoms, a statistical association has not been demonstrated under controlled conditions, even in studies with people who were convinced that they were sensitive to it."  (^ a b Geha RS, Beiser A, Ren C, et al. (April 2000). "Review of alleged reaction to monosodium glutamate and outcome of a multicenter double-blind placebo-controlled study". J. Nutr. 130 (4S Suppl): 1058S–62S. PMID 10736382.,  ^ a b Tarasoff L., Kelly M.F. (1993). "Monosodium L-glutamate: a double-blind study and review". Food Chem. Toxicol. 31 (12): 1019–1035. doi:10.1016/0278-6915(93)90012-N. PMID 8282275.,  ^ Freeman M. (October 2006). "Reconsidering the effects of monosodium glutamate: a literature review". J Am Acad Nurse Pract 18 (10): 482–6. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2006.00160.x. PMID 16999713.,  ^ Walker R (October 1999). "The significance of excursions above the ADI. Case study: monosodium glutamate". Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 30 (2 Pt 2): S119–S121. doi:10.1006/rtph.1999.1337. PMID 10597625.)  (That's 4, count them FOUR citations!)

     So why are Americans so afraid of MSG?  Well my opinion is that it's just another example of how the media uses our ignorance to propagate their own goals.  So now my own bottle of AC'CENT is demonized, though I use it in most of my cooking.  Chinese restaurants are demonized for using MSG, though it makes all their food taste better.  Doritos and Fritos and even Taco Works are demonized for making their chips more delicious with MSG.  Soups are demonized if they used MSG instead of the less healthful sea salt (AC'CENT contains 60% less sodium than salt, according to the packaging), but have you ever tasted a chicken noodle soup or a cream of mushroom soup that contains no MSG?  It's flipping disgusting!

     So go ahead everybody.  Even if you think you're allergic.  Go eat some MSG!  And listen to the Notorious MSG!  (but if you're going to do the latter, watch out for rectal prolapse...)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Attack of the Spasmaddicts!

     Armed with only an acoustic steel string guitar and an acoustic bass guitar, John Porter (formerly of Zanyck and Alleged Addiction) and Nathaniel Blair (formerly of Ingrave, Alleged Addiction, and the Traveling Bastards) are joining forces in the hopes of assaulting YOUR eardrums with some heavy shit peppered with darkness and beauty.

     The newly formed band also has possession of an electric guitar and an electric bass guitar, but currently has no proper means of amplification.  Nathaniel does own a bass half-stack that Tony bought a few years back, but it seems to be unserviceable at the current time.  I guess it's time to go out and pick up some blenders behind the thrift store!

      Seriously, though, with lack of funds, economic times are difficult.  The band possesses no effects pedals either.  If anybody out there owns any effects pedals, guitar and bass guitar amplifiers, microphones, mixers, or recording equipment that could be loaned the the band or even given to the band, the help would be greatly appreciated.  Currently the band will try to make do with whatever speaker systems can be dug up in dumpsters and lying around the house.

     Nathaniel's daughter owns a really nice 81-key touch sensitive and weighted Casio keyboard that would probably be okay to borrow.  Perhaps the band's next session or one coming soon will incorporate that keyboard.  Somebody's going to have to learn to use the drum programmer...

      Last band session saw the band making headway in its first song, still untitled, to being about midway written.  It cannot be completed without an effects pedal, for even though the band began writing the song with the acoustic guitar, it will require an electric guitar with chunky distortion for some of the heavier parts.  John had written some lyrics for the song previously, but as the band has not yet any way to record progress, their musical Alzheimer's has caused them to forget the original riffs in the song, causing the lyrics to no longer fit.

     Wish us luck!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Burning Churches in Norway Revisited (Or the Alleged Addiction Resurrected)

So on Thursday, I get a text from my friend John.  In retaining his spelling and punctuation, this is what he said:  "Hmm.  Am looking deep (thanks again vodka) what do u feel ur entire role was n alleged addiction...  F u wood humor me @ sum point................."

So thank you vodka.  You have inspired my next blog!  (Let's hope they have a good sense of humor and don't take us to the court!)

In retaining my own spelling and punctuation, this is what I responded:
"My entire role in the AA...  Began with the primary role of “the bassist.”  I was that quirky eccentric guy who was competent enough to play the supporting music (usually as dictated by others) but versatile enough to play the keyboards or rhythm guitar when the need arose or even to help co-write the occasional song.  Despite that competence and versatility, I always felt that my only claim to fame would be to ride on the shirt-tails of the greatness of others.  (i.e. John & Tony Porter.)  I also brought musical influence into the band, mostly in the form of bands we should take influence from.  (i.e. Cranes.)  Though I also brough in my own idea of how we should sound (by the end I had a clear idea of what I wanted) which would be “simplicity, heaviness, darkness, & beauty.”  Which is why I became appalled with the complexity and fruitiness that Tony began to move in the direction of after taking over the head of the band.  I also brought a varied personality to the band, a unique strangeness that varied the nature of the band and its humor...
    ...perhaps making the band’s humor slightly more accessible to the general public.  For most of the 7 yearsI was in the band, I was a motivator, as I really had a passion for making the band work.  It was my greatest dream in life.  Last, but hopefully least, I was the match that started the fire that finally destroyed the band.  Amber Starr was the kindling, and you and Tony were the fuel.  The band was already headed for destruction, but the final chaos in the end terminated the band completely."

I failed to mention that also for the first couple of years while I was in the military, I was also funding the band - sending $200 per month back to Tony, who would save up the money and then buy something cool like a huge mixing board and a bass half-stack.  (Which I still have in my room to this day.)
I went on to add a few more afterthoughts to the mix, all of the three fit nicely together:
      "I still think you and me should resurrect the AA without Tony, though I don’t believe will ever achieve the greatness we once had the potential to achieve.  
      I think we could still become big enough to publish records, I just don’t see us ever getting rich and famous now.  We’ve missed our chance for that, I think.  
      Honestly, you and I could produce music together, just like FOG!!! and the Cheerleaders of Satan, if one of us could just learn to program in the drums.  And my daughter owns a nice Casio keyboard with which we could do so.  Maybe Jennifer could learn how, and she could become the drum programmer - a promotion from tambourinist!" 

(I actually don't think 'tambourinist' is a word, but I like it!  And that's sort of a little joke of mine, since the other day I told Jennifer that she should be part of our band, and when she told me she couldn't play anything, I told her she could be my tambourinist.)

So drunken me (I got drunk later) and drunken John went on and on about family members joining in the mix...

FYI, "FOG!!! and the Cheerleaders of Satan" is a bit of an inside joke for John and I.  It's our nickname for a band called Mayhem that used to supposedly "burn churches in Norway."  (Which became the name of our biggest published record to date - "Burning Churches in Norway.")

Oh, and Tony, if you're reading this, no offense to you.  You're a great musician.  I just think that your musical style became a little bit too complex and fruity for the Alleged Addiction.  Great for video games!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Tribute to Brandi

Life has changed a lot in the past couple of months. Life was hard for me last year, and it culminated in the death of my dearest lady, Ms. Brandi Costa. Of course I went through an extreme period of grieving, which included spending nearly 2 weeks at my friend Angela's house, and a couple of other dear friends. (Olivia and Coral, I love you too.) I managed to get through the private viewing with the family (which I felt honored to be allowed to), the memorial, the wake, etc. I got lots of sympathy from friends and acquaintances, even people who I didn't know who were friends of Brandi's.

With time though, I began to learn that my life was really changing. First of all, I'm much more aware now of our own mortality, and the fact that we never know when our time may come. Unaware of what really happens when we leave our bodies behind, I've decided to make every attempt in my own little way to make this a heaven on Earth, since we may never attain any sort of discernible Heaven after we lose the bodies we currently possess. In this Heaven here, I enjoy my family, my friends, sex and intimacy, good food, and alcohol as much as reasonably possible whilst sharing my joy and happiness with those whom I love so that the little Heaven on Earth is spread to others and returned back to me.

I'm still the same Nathaniel, I'm just far more positive, confident, and joyous than I've ever been. I know that Brandi would be very proud of me. Sometimes I slip backward into the deep black water of regret and pain. To never see Brandi again strikes grief deeply inside of me. But here I am, and it would be heresy to waste my life in misery. I need to take the lessons that Brandi taught me and use them to better my life and the lives of others who are deserving of my love. And even when I am sobbing for my loss, I still feel great joy in my heart that she blessed my life with her presence, that she touched so many lives in such a positive way. I feel compelled to carry on her torch and bring light and joy to the Earth like she did.

I think that enough people in the world took the high road and carried on the light of goodness from wonderful people like Brandi, I'm sure it would be enough to counteract the selfishness that pervades, corrupts, and destroys our world today. I think that the purpose of life varies from person to person, but I truly believe that those whose goals in life are to conquer and collect are never truly happy. They are those like Brandi and our dearly departed Agripina who give more than they take who are the happiest. Brandi was no saint; she was addicted to anything she loved, she intentionally offended people with the harshest possible means such as religion and racism, she stole and she fought... But her smile brought joy to all and even those who she despised somehow loved her. She had a way of making you feel that she accepted you for who you were no matter what your flaws were, despite the fact that she obviously judged you. She was a walking contradiction, and by her own admission she never tiptoed through the daisies. She altered so many lives in such a great way...

...I think that Brandi is one of the greatest people I have ever met in my entire life. Hers is a great loss to the entire world, and we will always feel a hole where she once was in our lives.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Will You Really Vote for the Best Candidate?

The other day I got a knock at my door. Which is rare. People don't come knocking at my door. When I answered the door, something even more rare occurred. The lady at the door asked for me by name. Well hello! Turns out the Libertarian party (of which I'm a part) needs a number of signatures to get Mr. Darrell M. Stafford on the ballot against Lois Capps. It seems like a pretty grass-roots sort of thing, so I decided it would be best for me to do my duty as a Libertarian and a voter and disseminate the best I can the information here.

I don't really know his platform yet, as he's not really gotten moving too quickly into this plan of action, but at this point, I think that the best thing that people can do if they care about real change in the government would be to change their voter registration to Libertarian. If you have paid attention to my political views in the past, you should know what the Libertarian views are, but if you don't, this is my take on them:

Libertarians, like "Democrats," believe in personal freedoms, very likely even more so than most Democrats. They are advocates for gay rights, legalization of marijuana and prostitution, for example. Or at least the Libertarians I am aware of lean in that direction. Like "Republicans," the Libertarians also believe in less government intervention. Which means more freedom for corporations and businesses, less taxes, and even the privatization of government industries such as education and law enforcement. Those last two have always felt a little extreme to me, but with proper planning and such, I think that the Libertarians could really make positive changes in that direction.

We may not have had any luck at the presidential level, but the Libertarian party is overall the most successful 3rd party we've had in politics. Now is the time for people to start doing what they can to make a change. Change your party affiliation to Libertarian, and we can make positive changes at least locally, and not continue with the failed years and years and years that Lois Capps has been giving us. Let's do something about it!